Objective: Brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) provide a non-muscular communication channel for patients with impairments of the motor system. A significant number of BCI users is unable to obtain voluntary control of a BCI-system in proper time. This makes methods that can be used to determine the aptitude of a user necessary. Methods: We hypothesized that integrity and connectivity of involved white matter connections may serve as a predictor of individual BCI-performance. Therefore, we analyzed structural data from anatomical scans and diffusion tensor (...) imaging (DTI) of motor imagery BCI-users differentiated into high and low BCI-aptitude groups based on their overall performance. Results: Using a machine learning classification method we identified discriminating structural brain trait features and correlated the best features with a continuous measure of individual BCI-performance. Prediction of the aptitude group of each participant was possible with near perfect accuracy (one error). Conclusions: Tissue volumetric analysis yielded only poor classification results. In contrast, the structural integrity and myelination quality of deep white matter structures such as the Corpus Callosum, Cingulum and Superior Fronto-Occipital Fascicle were positively correlated with individual BCI-performance. Significance: This confirms that structural brain traits contribute to individual performance in BCI use. (shrink)
The diminished fear reactivity is one of the most valid physiological findings in psychopathy research. In a fear conditioning paradigm, with faces as conditioned stimulus (CS) and electric shock as unconditioned stimulus (US), we investigated a sample of 14 high psychopathic violent offenders. Event related potentials, skin conductance responses (SCR) as well as subjective ratings of the CSs were collected. This study assessed to which extent the different facets of the psychopathy construct contribute to the fear conditioning deficits observed in (...) psychopaths. Participants with high scores on the affective facet subscale of the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R) showed weaker conditioned fear responses and lower N100 amplitudes compared to low scorers. In contrast, high scorers on the affective facet rated the CS+ (paired) more negatively than low scorers regarding the CS- (unpaired). Regarding the P300, high scores on the interpersonal facet were associated with increased amplitudes to the CS+ compared to the CS-, while the opposed pattern was found with the antisocial facet. Both, the initial and terminal contingent negative variation indicated a divergent pattern: participants with pronounced interpersonal deficits, showed increased cortical negativity to the CS+ compared to the CS-, whereas a reversed CS+/CS- differentiation was found in offenders scoring high on the antisocial facet. The present study revealed that deficient fear conditioning in psychopathy was most pronounced in offenders with high scores on the affective facet. Event related potentials suggest that participants with distinct interpersonal deficits showed increased information processing, whereas the antisocial facet was linked to decreased attention and interest to the CS+. These data indicate that an approach to the facets of psychopathy can help to resolve ambiguous findings in psychopathy research and enables a more precise and useful description of this disorder. (shrink)
Although the brain enables us to perceive the external world and our body, it remains unknown whether brain processes themselves can be perceived. Brain tissue does not have receptors for its own activity. However, the ability of humans to acquire self-control of brain processes indicates that the perception of these processes may also be achieved by learning. In this study patients learned to control low-frequency components of their EEG: the so-called slow cortical potentials (SCPs). In particular ''probe'' sessions, the patients (...) estimated the quality of the SCP shift they had produced in the preceding trial. The correspondence between the recorded SCP amplitudes and the subjective estimates increased with training. The ability to perceive the SCPs was related to the ability to control them; this perception was not mediated by peripheral variables such as changes in muscle tonus and cannot be reduced to simple vigilance monitoring. These data provide evidence that humans can learn to perceive the neural activity of their brain. Alternative interpretations are discussed. (shrink)
The persistence of both inflammatory and neuropathic pain can only be explained when learning processes are taken into account in addition to sensitizing mechanisms. Learning processes such as classical and operant conditioning create memories for pain that are based on altered synaptic connections in supraspinal structures and persist without peripheral input. [coderre & katz; dickenson; wiesenfeld-hallin et al.].